The Week in Review #36: Goals with Systems

I have always thought of goals as being integral parts of our lives. They act as a compass, pointing us towards paths we believe will bring us happiness and contentment. Yet, when I look back at my past achievements they didn’t create the enduring sense of joy that I hoped they would. What they did provide was the confidence and drive that I can achieve bigger and more ambitious goals. This begs the question as to where are we really wanting to go. If we blindly pursue one large goal after another, we will find ourselves stuck in an infinite loop. Perhaps, it is easier to leave the bigger questions unanswered and keep climbing this boundless ladder.

Last year I set myself the goal of completing a duathalon. The bigger objective was to get myself into shape. During the training period I developed a healthy diet, regular exercising routine and fixed my sleep cycles. It has been a year since I successfully completed the race. While I am very proud of my achievement, what has really impacted my life were the habits I developed while training for the race. This accidental discovery led me to re-evaluate some of my other goals and the systems I have in place to achieve them.

The goals we set ourselves do matter. However the methods we choose to achieve them are far more significant than the goal itself. Quotes such as “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” make a lot more sense when you look at them through this lens. In an era of instant gratification this quote seems out of place. Society today is geared to supercharge our output, loading oneself on caffeine and getting to where we need to as quickly as possible. In our quest of constant achievement have we forgotten what we are searching for in the first place?

All of us have goals and aspirations that we hope to achieve. What I strongly urge us to do is to re-evaluate the methods we are using to achieve them. Blindly checking off items on a to-do list may be an effective short term strategy. However, what you are looking for is system which will have a larger impact on your life. For instance one of my longer term goals is to write a book. When I first started out with this goal I outlined the book and made a checklist of all the sections. There were weeks when I managed to check items of the list and other’s when I didn’t have the will power to do so. Earlier this year I made two changes to my method. The first was committing to write everyday, even if it is a single sentence. The second was to commit reading a book for 30 minutes everyday. Both of those changes have dramatically improved my writing as well as the quality of my life.

Here is a simple exercise you can do today. Take one goal that you believe will have the most significant impact on your life. Next ask yourself “what are 1 – 3 things that you should be doing repeatedly to move yourself closer to the goal?”. This one question could help you get unstuck and enable you to achieve things you previously couldn’t imagine!

Ben Horowitz’s Best Startup Advice This was the best post I read this week. It is a summary of a live chat that happened on Product Hunt. Ben is a partner at a16z and previously was at Loudcloud and Netscape. His book on his startup journey is also a must read for every entrepreneur.

Ideas are Easy, Words are Cheap This is a very short read with an important lesson. It is much easier to be a bystander and give ideas or suggestions. Getting your hands dirty and putting yourself is what makes a difference.

eSports Market Ecosystem Map My excitement about the eSports maket continues to grow. Every week I come across more data points on how it is growing rapidly. For anyone who is interested in knowing the main players in this space, this post is a gerat read.

How I went from underemployed waitress to the top 1% of millennials in 3 months This post follows the theme of the week. It is all about setting a goal and building systems to enable you to reach it. For anyone who is stuck in their career and wants to break out this will be a very helpful read.

What if… Tinder was your Appraisal tool? The world of performance management fascinates me. While this post does push the envelope, it does bring some important questions to the forefront. Businesses such as Knowyourcompany are building models quite similar to what is being discussed in the article. It is an exciting space which I am looking forward to seeing evolve.

Ted Talk of the Week: What really matters at the end of life This is a very emotional and heavy talk. I would recommend taking atleast 45 minutes out of your day to both watch the talk and reflect on it’s content. The author talks extensively about death and our journey towards it. This is a topic that is usually skipped over and not talked about enough.

Hope you have a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #35: Excuses Don’t Construct Monuments

Life is a battle. Everyday we face a new set of challenges. There will be days when we will be triumphant and other days when we will be down on our luck. Sometimes the wounds of defeat will be severe. We won’t have the energy to get back up and will find solace in our excuses. This will begin a slippery slope where the invisible scripts in our head will begin to take over. Food will lose it’s flavour and sleep will be our only refuge to run away from the ever increasing amount of challenges.

The only way out is to take action. To have the courage to face our fears and stand back onto our feet. We have to shred our excuses and the invisible scripts that haunt us.

This will require us to have belief; both in ourselves and our ability to get out of the hole we have dug for ourselves. All of us have the ability to get back up. Everyday we have the opportunity to right the wrong’s of the past and start afresh. It is never too late and all we have to do is just take a single step forward. With each subsequent day we will regain all our lost energy and start making progress. The wounds of the past will be reminders of how far we have come.

Excuses don’t construct monuments. Action does. ~ Robin Sharma

The Methods for Super Human Productivity This week’s featured post is by Robin Sharma. A renowned coach and advisor to some of the top performers in the world. He shares 4 tips to boost your productivity and make substantial progress towards your goals. This is a must read and the tactics shared within the post have already had a huge impact on my life.

Work Hard, Live Well A couple of weeks ago the New York times wrote a piece on the culture of Amazon. It talked about the cut throat environment and how hard the employees had to work. This article is in response to that piece by the co-founder of Facebook and now the founder of Asana. The post goes into detail about the rise of the 40 hour week and the reasoning behind it. There is a lot of discussion around the benefits of balance.

Marc Benioff’s 7 lessons from his mentor turned nemesis Both Oracle and Salesforce are two organizations that I look up to. They are aggressive enterprise software companies that have achieved remarkable success. Each company is led by strong visionary leaders that have taken their companies from the garage to a category leader. This post shares the 7 lessons that Marc Benioff learned from Larry Ellison during his time at Oracle.

Ambition vs. Meaningful Goals This post talks ambition, success and meaningful goals. At times all three of these terms are grouped as one. While the differences between each of the terms may appear small they are not. The author defines each term and comes to his conclusion on how we should pursue our aspirations.

How to make things people want The author of this post is the founder of a company called I have watched this company grow from it’s early days in an accelerator to becoming a great company. The founder has a great sense of product design and building products that people want. In this in-depth post he shares his thoughts in great detail with a multitude of examples.

The Sad Story Of Onboarding Gone Wrong Onboarding is one of the most overlooked components of the recruitment process. Most companies believe that once the candidate has signed the employment contract they can move onto the next candidate in line. This results in increasing attrition and the probability of losing your best employees. This post talks in detail about onboarding and tips on improving your process.

Wishing everyone a great weekend ahead!

The Week in Review #18: Seneca on Gratefulness

After listening to a podcast with Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss earlier this year, I started reading some books on Stoicism. Currently I am reading “Letters from a Stoic” by Seneca. It has been a fascinating read. I have never highlighted and bookmarked a book as much as this one. Yesterday I came across a passage which really resonated with me. This particular letter was on gratefulness and it’s importance in our daily lives. My favorite passage is reproduces below.

“The ungrateful man tortures and torments himself; he hates the gifts which he has accepted, because he must make a return for them, and he tries to belittle their value, but he really enlarges and exaggerates the injuries which he has received. And what is more wretched than a man who forgets his benefits and clings to his injuries?

Wisdom, on the other hand, lends grace to every benefit, and of her own free will commends it to her own favour, and delights her soul by continued recollection thereof. Evil men have but one pleasure in benefits, and a very short-lived pleasure at that; it lasts only while they are receiving them. But the wise man derives therefrom an abiding and eternal joy. For he takes delight not so much in receiving the gift as in having received it; and this joy never perishes; it abides with him always. He despises the wrongs done him; he forgets them, not accidentally, but voluntarily.

He does not put a wrong construction upon everything, or seek for someone who he may hold responsible for each happening; he rather ascribes even the sins of men to chance. He will not misinterpret a word or a look; he makes light of all mishaps by interpreting them in a generous way. He does not remember an injury rather than a service. As far as possible, he lets his memory rests upon the earlier and the better deed, never changing his attitude towards those who have deserved well of him.”

…Be Like Dave This week the CEO of Survey Monkey passed away tragically. There was an out pour of posts about David Goldberg and the life he led. I enjoyed reading this piece by Bill Gurley. It also fits into the theme of this week’s post on paying attention to the type of life we lead and what we want to leave behind. Far too often we overlook the long term and focus on the short term. Our interactions, character and contributions to society is what we are going to be remembered by.

To Invent the Future, You Must Understand the Past This was a long but fascinating read. If you are interested in the birth of Silicon Valley this article has it all. It also has some great insights into pattern matching and what is needed to truly understand how to build a successful company.

Ten things I learned studying ten of the world’s fastest growing startups Growth is an integral part of the success of any business. This article provides a great summary of the tactics and strategies employed by the fastest growing companies in the world. My favorite lesson was “Don’t try to boil the ocean”. Picking a niche and dominating it before growing into other segments is key.

Well, We Failed. Startup failure post mortems are very valuable reads for entrepreneurs. They provide insight of what worked and specifically what didn’t. This helps us to refocus our efforts and pay attention the small things that may snowball. The founder put together a gorgeous pitch deck for his startup be sure to check it out.

Valuation As A Scorecard In a world where 17 startups can raise a combined $1,401,700,000 in one day, valuations seem to be what everyone talks about. Fred Wilson writes a superb post that puts this number into context. If you are an entrepreneur and you are not subscribed to AVC you should subscribe today!

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead. I recently resubscribed to posts by James Clear. He does a great job of churning out quality content every week. Would definitely recommend his blog. This post was a great read and to an extent summarizes the main point that Scott Adams makes in his book “How to fail at everything and still Win Big”. In summary it isn’t about setting goals, rather it is the systems that we need to put into place that get us where we want to go.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

The Week in Review #9: From Dead-End Job to Uber Billionaire

I picked up a pretty awesome book this weekend after reading through Ryan Holidays’ book “The Obstacle is the way“, it was Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. I have thoroughly enjoyed it so far and would definitely recommend it, especially to entrepreneurs reading this blog. The article of the week was an old one which resurfaced this week about the co-founder of Uber and how he hustled his way to join the company in it’s early days.

From Dead-End Job to Uber Billionaire: Meet Ryan Graves The biggest takeaway is that we have to choose ourselves if we want to truly want to live our life. We do this by using our skills to solve large problems that exist in the world today. It is at that intersection that we will find out purpose and true calling.

Ways to think about market size Great article on how think about the size of the market your business is planning to operate in. The best quote from the article was “Everyone likes to quotes the Wayne Gretzy line that he was skating to where the puck was going to be, not where it was, but Apple and Google didn’t do that – they changed what the game was.”

The Most Important Equations in Business (Part 1): Customer Acquisition How much does it cost a business to acquire a customer and how much money does the business make on that customer; these are the two questions that drive your business. This article goes into great length talking about these two questions with lots of great examples.

How Successful Remote Teams Evaluate Employees The concept of a physical office is slowly fading into the past. Companies are looking for ways on how to attract and recruit talent from all around the world today. This articles discusses strategies of how companies are addressing this shift.

7 Awesome Talent / Recruitment Hacks This is definitely a slightly technical post on how to recruit developers. I found these hacks to be very innovative and highlights how recruiting and sourcing is rapidly changing.

How I launched the #2 most upvoted product of all time on Product Hunt Product Hunt is one of the websites that I visit daily. It provides a dose of inspiration with all the awesome products that are launched everyday. This post provides a detailed analysis on how one founder really worked hard to get his startup to the top of the list. The big takeaway, have a clear goal, work hard and good things will happen.

What’s your GMT – The next goal, milestone and task? In a world where we are drowning in todo lists and a never ending stream of decisions to make, this article talks about a great framework to make sense of it all. By focusing our efforts on the clear next steps, we reduce noise and increase our ability to focus & get things done.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!

Being Productive vs Being Busy

In a world where we are constantly “connected” and always have something to do, we can very easily confuse being productive vs being busy. Like most vices, short term impacts are often never felt and we only get to see how far behind we are on our ‘actual’ tasks after a couple of weeks or sometimes even months. This is a problem faced by almost everyone at some point in life. In fact, statistics show that more than 77% of people are disengaged with the work they do every day. I received a piece of advice that has helped me greatly in overcoming this problem, it was, to systematically break down my goals into achievable chunks. Listed below are some steps to get started:

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Overcoming the Execution Gap

With the new year in full swing, many of us may have set goals towards what we aspire to achieve in 2013. However, there is a big difference between setting goals and achieving them. Essentially the execution gap in the middle is where many fall. In 2013 you may want to become healthier, boost your business forward or write the book that you have always wanted to. These are good goals to work towards but in order to be truly committed about this we need to over come the execution gap.

Here are three steps to get you started:

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Is Making Money the Ultimate Validation?

Recently I had an interesting conversation with someone who took the stance that, making money was the only sign that you are creating any value in the world. From his perspective making something that had perceived monetary value meant that you had created something worth while. On a very superficial level, I believe this argument has some basis, however, it has some very serious flaws. While I agree that making money does prove that your work has some value and the amounts of monetary exchange is an indicator of this, I do believe that this line of thought is extremely myopic and is a blinkered reflection of the workings in the industrial era where you did a certain job solely for and in exchange for compensation.

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